For the past three years, the folks at Automattic have released an annual default theme for WordPress designed to be both a great theme on its own, and provide a solid, well-organized, and compatible basis for spawning “child” themes. The Twenty Twelve theme was released late last year with WP 3.5, and this week the Commons has upgraded to the new version and made Twenty Twelve our default WordPress theme. You can read more about Twenty Twelve at its page over at WordPress.com, but here are some highlights:
Twenty Twelve is designed to look great on all devices. When viewed on a smart phone, the layout collapses nicely and a menu button replaces the navigation bar. You can scroll up and down the page and not miss anything to the right or left. (Read more about Responsive Design.)
It’s Simple and Minimalistic
The theme does not have a lot of bells and whistles. It has just one sidebar, three page templates, and not a lot of default widgets. It doesn’t have a slider or all the fancy stuff some of our magazine themes have.
With its Open Sans typeface, your content is easy to read and looks great. Twenty Twelve provides a beautiful “Front Page Template” that puts you in control of your site’s home page. The area at the top is free-form – add a full width image, or an image and some explanatory text, or an embedded video, or whatever you want. Below the free form area are two columns that are ready for any widget from the theme or any of your plugins. For more information on how to set up your front page and a blog page, see these instructions.
Unlike Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven, the header image (if you choose to have one) appears below the navigation. You can probably do some fancy CSS to replace your blog title and tagline with a logo image above the navigation, or create a child theme with a differently formatted header if needed. (Read more about Child Themes.)
The bylines on individual post pages don’t appear under the post title and can’t be changed except by creating a child theme (or I suppose, by finding a byline plugin). This might be an issue, especially if your site has content written by multiple users.
In time, I expect there will be some child themes of Twenty Twelve available on the Commons that address some of these considerations. Stay tuned!